A Pastor’s Heart – Romans 15:14-33

 

The apostle Paul was a missionary who had a pastor’s heart. When we think of the term ‘pastor’ it is important that we differentiate between the gift of pastor and the office of pastor. The word ‘pastor’ basically means to ‘shepherd.’ According to Ephesians 4:11, to ‘pastor’ is a spiritual gift given to the church for the edifying of the whole body. However, the office of a pastor is what we see in Timothy and Titus where it speaks of the bishop or ‘overseer’ of the church. There are many who have the gift of pastoring but does not hold the office of a pastor. When you think about it, we are all pastors in one way or another. For example, parents pastor their children, Sunday School teachers pastor their students, a Christian ball coach pastors his players, etc. As we look at Romans 15, we find the heart of a pastor. This passage may directly apply to those who hold the office of a pastor, however, the principles found in this text also applies to all those who uses the gift of pastoring.

The heart of a pastor realizes the people’s ability. Notice what Paul says in verse 14. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” [1] Paul commends the church at Rome because they are able to admonish each other. Basically, Paul is telling them that they don’t need him. They can take care of themselves. They have the ability to minister to one another on their own. I have served in the capacity of a pastor in the local church for a number of years. I have followed several great men who were the pastor before me. However, I have found that one of the biggest mistakes that pastors make is when they do not realize the ability of the flock and they do everything themselves. This causes the church to become dependent on the pastor in such a way that they do not do anything themselves. This scenario is not healthy for the church. A good pastor will find the strengths in the church and encourage them is those strengths and where they are weak, he will train them and build them up. There are times when it is easier for me, as a pastor, to do something myself, however, I may purposely not do it myself in order to cause people within the congregation to step up to the plate and do what I know they are capable of doing. This same concept applies to other areas of life. For example, parents do their children a great injustice when they do everything for them. I remember one night my oldest daughter, who at the time was ten years old, wanted to cook supper for everyone. I was a little nervous. I kept asking my wife if she could really do it, don’t we need to help her. My wife told me that our daughter has to learn sometime and I was asked not to go into the kitchen and interfere. My daughter called us all in for supper and to my surprise she made a wonderful meal of homemade mashed potatoes, chicken, and other vegetables. The lesson here is that she could do it all herself, so let her do it. In the life of the local church, the pastor must understand and know the ability of the flock and allow them to do what they do best and try to not get in the way. The heart of a pastor truly knows the people’s ability.

The heart of a pastor realizes the people’s need. Even though Paul saw the ability that the church had, he also understood what they really needed. Notice what he says in verses 15-19. “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, 16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. 17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”[2]The thing that the church needed was the preaching of the gospel. There are two things that we see here concerning what and how Paul preached. (1) Preaching only what Christ gives him. Paul informed the church that he has been bold in preaching the gospel to them. He assured them of his commitment to preach only what Christ gives him to preach. Basically, Paul was telling them that he preaches what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. It is important to note here that the man who holds the office of pastor has the unique responsibility to preach all of the Word of God. He is to preach the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sometimes, what we think we need is not what we really need at all. For example, you may feel that you need a hot cup of coffee and a cold winter day. You may think that you need some comfort food. However, what you think you need is often times not what you really need. I think it is interesting when people in the church complain about what is preached. Everyone seems to know what the pastor ought to preach. However, the pastor is constantly in the Word and in prayer. He is to preach what the Holy Spirit tells him to preach, not what the congregation wants him to preach. In reality, as long as the pastor is not preaching false doctrine, then there really is no cause for complaint. (2) Preaching with the hope of obedience. It was Paul’s desire that the church would respond to his preaching in a positive way. The pastor must understand that God’s Word will never return void. It will always accomplish something in somebody’s life. The pastor preaches with the intent that the people will respond and obey. There is no greater joy for a pastor, than to see his congregation applying the sermons to their lives. This hope of obedience to seen in the many other areas outside the office of the pastor. Parents, have the hope that their children will obey, employers have the hope that their employees will obey, etc. Truth proclaimed is always accompanied by the hope of obedience.

The heart of a pastor is missional. Paul was certainly a missionary. He had a heart for missions. Notice what it says in verses 20-24. “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: 21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. 22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company”.[3]Paul had a desire to preach the gospel where no one had preached before. He had a fervent desire to see people come to faith in the Lord Jesus. A true pastor’s heart is one that is missional. I find it very difficult for anyone to serve in the office of a pastor and not have a heart for missions and for the furtherance of the gospel. When I think of my role as a pastor, I feel that one of my top concerns and priorities is to lead the church in evangelizing the lost. Edifying the saints is extremely crucial; however, nothing is more crucial and urgent than the snatching up of a soul that is dangling over the pits of hell. Winning the lost should be at the very core of every pastor’s heart. Such a strong desire for soul-winning should exist in the heart of all true believers.

The heart of a pastor is hospitable. Paul was a very hospitable person. He really cared about others. Look what it says in verses 25-29. “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. 28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” [4] Paul had a great desire to go to Rome; however, he could not get away because of his great love for people. Paul felt the need to minister to people not just spiritually but also physically. A pastor’s heart is one that is concerned for the spiritual and the physical well-being of the flock. A local church is a family. As a family, we are to work to meet each other’s needs. Meeting people’s needs is also a way in which we can proclaim the message of the gospel. Whether you are a pastor, parent, teacher, or whatever you do in life, we should all have a heart that is hospitable.

The heart of a pastor needs to be refreshed. Everyone needs a break every now and them. Even the Apostle Paul needed a time of refreshing. Look at what he says in verses 30-33. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” [5] Paul asked the church at Rome to pray that he would have the opportunity to get away from his work and come and see them. He needed a break, he needed to be refreshed. Everyone needs a time of refreshing from time to time, including those who hold the office of pastor. When you think about, the work of a pastor is very rarely relieved. A pastor is one profession in which the job goes with you everywhere you go. I know for our family this is true. Very rarely is there a time when I go out in public and do not run into someone who knows me and wants to talk. I am never ‘away’ from the job. In order for our family to really have a break we have to get out of town. This is true for other professions as well, not just a pastor. The point here is that we all need times of refreshing. It is difficult to be efficient in life if you do not get the rest that you need. In order to have a pastor’s heart, that heart must be refreshed.  It is important that we as believers work to help refresh each other’s heart.

Certainly, a pastor’s heart is necessary in order to hold the office of a pastor. However, a pastor’s heart is something that we should all strive to have. May we pray and ask God to give us a pastor’s heart.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:14). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:15–19). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:20–24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:25–29). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:30–33). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

 

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